Final score: University of Richmond- 60, George Mason University- 69
What happened: Richmond couldn’t overcome one of its worst halves of the season and dropped a game to team that played better than last place in the Atlantic-10 conference. George Mason, which pushed A-10 leader Saint Louis to overtime twice this month, came out hot, going on an early 11-0 run to jump out to a 15-7 lead that it wouldn’t relinquish. The Spiders, meanwhile, looked lost on offense against the Patriots’ zone defense, which forced poor shots and turnovers all half. The Patriots finished the half on a 12-0 run and took a commanding 37-16 lead into halftime. The lead would be stretched to as much as 23 points before Kendall Anthony put the Spiders on his back in an attempt to keep his team’s postseason hopes alive. After scoring just four first-half points, Anthony scored 19 in the second (mostly on three-pointers), and brought the Spiders to as close as five points of the Patriots. However, a clutch 3-pointer by George Mason’s Patrick Holloway and enough made free throws foiled Richmond’s comeback attempt and, barring a lengthy A-10 tournament run, any chance the Spiders had at an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
Spider positives: It’s hard to find positives in such a devastating game for Richmond’s tournament hopes, but you have to admire the grit of guys such as Anthony (23 pts) and freshman ShawnDre Jones (9 pts), who refused to go down quietly despite the obviously porous shooting night on the road. The full-court press that Coach Chris Mooney elected to apply in the second half also was working fairly well, giving the Patriots problems, but it often failed to translate into turnovers because of a few unlucky bounces.
Spider negatives: Just about everything was a negative in the first half. With its tournament hopes on the line and an obviously motivated opponent looking to prove it belonged in the A-10, Richmond came out flat. The Patriots got to every loose ball and consistently outran the Spiders down the court for easy buckets. After two big games at home, Terry Allen was nowhere to be found in this game. He showed some aggressiveness early, but his shots were consistently out of control and off-balance. As a result, he stopped driving and finished with just two points and sat down early in the first half with three fouls. Defensively, the Spiders allowed the Patriots to shoot more than 56 percent from the field, allowing GMU’s guards drive into the lane consistently without much trouble.
Up next: The Spiders have short break before traveling to take on Rhode Island on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Kingston, R.I.